Sigh. So, hi, tiny flist! Have a weird little second person exploration of one of my crackpot character theories. ^_^;;; I have been so, so blocked for so, so long, and even this much was like pulling teeth, so forgive me if it sucks, hmm?
Prompt: Eliot/Nate, drinking makes the pain go away
“I get it, you know,” he tells you quietly one night. Everyone else has gone, but the two of you are still sitting in the darkened bar, surrounded by empty upturned chairs, a bottle of whiskey slowly dwindling between you.
You sip your drink and don’t need to ask him what he means.
“The functional part. That’s the part that matters,” he elaborates, tipping the bottle with exaggerated care to refill his glass.
You feel one corner of your mouth curl up in an involuntary smirk. It’s both a truth and a lie. You could point out that really, the functional part is just the desired result, not necessarily the part that matters. But everybody needs their illusions.
You can remember being younger, cocky and confident, sure you could handle anything life threw at you and come out on top. You can remember a time before you knew how it felt to have a gaping hole in your chest where your heart used to be. You can remember when you could sleep naturally through the night. You can remember when your body didn’t twinge and ache with the memories of old wounds, with the slow inexorable advance of time wearing you down.
You can remember a lot of things you’d rather you couldn’t, but only when you’re completely sober. The pain isn’t so bad without the memories to compare it to.
“I’m just, you know, saying,” he continues, tilting his glass, watching the few lights still on overhead reflecting off the liquid. “I don’t judge you.”
You laugh, toss back your drink. “Thanks so much,” you reply sarcastically. “I don’t know how I could live without your approval.”
He snorts and raises his glass, blue eyes too sharp as he slants a glance at you over the rim. He lowers the glass, smirks. “Well. Approval might be a little strong of a word.”
You laugh again.
It’s funny, the things people notice, and the things they don’t. After three years, you’d think your teammates would have realized that every time you pull a con, you always play totally against type, against what you really are. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
But you’re good at it, you’re better than most of them realize, and maybe that’s why it works on them, too. You can show them what they want to see, a strong man, a smart man, a man who can handle the pain and the punishment, a man in control. The functional part. They pay no attention to the drink always in your hand.
“I do get it,” he insists again, quietly, and it occurs to you at last that he’s trying to be kind, that he’s maybe concerned, that he’s trying to commiserate. His hand rests warm on your thigh.
You would laugh again, but it’s not exactly funny. You tip the last of the bottle into your glass, swirl it idly, wonder what to say.
You could explain to him that you can’t afford to lie to yourself about your weaknesses. You could tell him that you know it would be hard to stop, but you could do it, you would do it, if you thought you needed to, if you thought they needed you to. You could tell him you’re more functional than he is like this, and you’d be telling the truth with all of it.
You could tell him that you only drink to keep the pain manageable, the pain of old scars and memories, the pain of a past you’ll never escape. But from the way he stares into his glass, you know he already knows all that. Maybe he even knows that it’s both a truth and a lie.
“It’s still a problem,” he says gently, sliding his hand slowly higher. “But I get it.”
“Drinking’s not a problem,” you say, set your empty glass upside down on the bar, slide off your stool and fist a hand in his shirt. He lets you pull him along as you back out of the bar. “It’s a symptom.”
His eyes are sad and tired and knowing before you pull him fully into the shadows, but he stays quiet. Because, really, he does get it.
Everybody needs their illusions.
A/N: Yes, this is meant to be from Eliot's POV. Watch him. He drinks a lot on the show.